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Obama administration is as weak on Pakistani terrorism as Nigerian terrorism

Despite its known links to Al Qaeda, and its history of terror attacks, the Obama administration has refused to assign Boko Haram FTO status, only marking out Boko Haram leaders as terrorists.

Now the exact same thing is happening with Taliban-linked Pakistani terrorism.

Associated Press reports:

By voice vote, the Senate approved a bill Thursday that would require the secretary of state to report to Congress on whether the Haqqani network meets the criteria to be designated a foreign terrorist organization and if not, to explain why. The report is due within 30 days of the president signing the measure. The bill now goes to Obama.

The administration has sanctioned top individuals of the Haqqani network, but it is still reviewing whether to label the entire organization. That delay has frustrated members of Congress.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the Intelligence Committee, had added an amendment to the bill stating that it was the sense of Congress that the Haqqani network meets the definition of a terrorist organization and they should be designated as one.

The State Department has defended its effort, citing its sanctions of the network’s top individuals. The Haqqani network, largely operating in eastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, is affiliated with both the Taliban and al-Qaida. U.S. officials say it represents one of the biggest threats to Afghanistan stability because it is believed to use Pakistan as a rear base for attacks on American and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Depressingly familiar. A Reuters piece on Haqqani from last week, explains the consequences of listing Haqqani as an FTO, and explains that some Obama officials were hoping to engage Haqqani in dialogue and so remove them from the battlefield – as if the root cause of Haqqani were economic.

By not giving Haqqani and Boko Haram FTO status – let alone Ansar Dine of Mali – it seems like the Obama administration is happy for the FTO list to increasingly seem antiquated and irrelevant, like an early noughties relic of the Bush administration.

By not giving Haqqani and Boko Haram FTO status, it is not illegal to fund either group from the United States.

Through its attitude to FTO status, the Obama administration is playing a dangerous game, that will only cause more problems for themselves, further down the line.

Stephen Rothbart comments:

Obama is weak on everything to do with terrorism, and perhaps this below explains why:

“This latest terrorist murders of Israelis comes only days after the Obama administration persisted in excluding Israel from its “Global Counterterrorism Forum” (GCTF) and “High Level Conference on Victims of Terrorism,” and just two days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Israel telling PM Netanyahu to release convicted terrorists from prison as a “goodwill gesture”. (The U.S. State Department described the GCTF as a “major initiative” to build “an international counterterrorism network as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries.”)

So GCTF without Israeli input.

Bit like playing soccer but not picking your leading goal scorer, because the opposition does not like him very much.

Thanks to Tom Gross for this input.